Whitehaven’s Championship squad is being licked into shape ahead of the run of three pre-season warm-up games - and coach Gary Charlton couldn’t be happier.

Charlton expects to go into action in 2020 with a squad of 25 and the way they have been working in training convinces him they will be ready.

“I am absolutely certain that all these lads are capable of playing in the Championship and we certainly won’t be lacking in effort, fitness and commitment.

“Everyone knows it’s going to be a challenge stepping up to the Championship but we surprised everybody last year and I think we can do so again,” said Charlton.

Among the newcomers at the Recreation Ground for 2020 has been the much-travelled forward Jamie Thackray who at 40 is the senior member of the squad.

It’s the second time that Charlton has signed the former Great Britain prop, having recruited him for Workington Town.

“I thought it was a no brainer to sign him when we heard he was available. He might be the oldest player in the Championship but he has kept himself in superb shape,” added Charlton.

“Everyone has been impressed with his fitness and how he has been going in training, but that’s what I came to expect from him.

“I know Jamie believes he has unfinished business after what happened at Keighley last season, and that has made him extra keen to do well. Jamie has so much experience at the top level that he made a perfect fit for us moving up to the Championship.

“I realise it’s how the team performs that you put on the field, but watching the lads putting in the work in the build-up makes me feel confident that Jamie and the rest of the lads will be fine.”

Charlton expects to be able to announce one more signing before the warm-up games but says there are unlikely to be any more after that - “unless the right player becomes available.”

Haven will start their run of three ‘friendlies’ on Saturday, January 11 at Newcastle Thunder, with the traditional Ike Southward Memorial, at the Recreation Ground, on Sunday, January 19.

The build-up is completed the following Sunday (January 26) when Whitehaven will host North Wales Crusaders.

Chairman Tommy Todd said: “We start the Championship season the following week at home to Swinton, so we have three home games in succession, which is good.”